Does anxiety ever go away? Or will I always feel like this? Good news, my friend! You won't feel like this forever - you can absolutely put in the work to get your anxiety under control, but - that doesn't necessarily mean you would ever feel anxious again. Let me explain.
When I started out on the journey of getting my anxiety under control, I always got the impression that one day I just wouldn't feel this any more. That all my problems would just magically disappear. That I would be able to face any situation with the utmost confidence, and would never get that sinking feeling in my gut again... ever. But I was wrong.
I had been an anxious person for as long as I could remember. I remember having those awful feelings even as small child. I went through school, into teenhood and then into adulthood thinking that this was just the way I was, never really expecting it to get any better. I thought I would just live my whole life with this fear. Eventually, I had a kind of emotional breakdown and was diagnosed by my doctor with anxiety and depression. To be honest, I was kinda pleased. It meant there was actually something wrong with me, and that I could be fixed. Except at the time I didn't know that's not how it works.
I went to a counsellor for a few sessions of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with the full expectation that the counsellor was going to make all my problems disappear. After a few sessions, nothing had changed. I felt like the whole thing was a bit pointless and I dropped out. I just wasn't mature enough to realise that I had to take responsibility for my own emotions. I thought somebody else could just sort me out and that would be that.
Fast forward a good few years and I managed to keep my anxiety at bay for the most part by just avoiding anything in life that might trigger me to feel anxious. Let me tell you, this works - but it is not sustainable. I ended up in a place where I was too afraid to try anything new because it might trigger my anxiety - and this left me feeling pretty bored, and frustrated to say the least.
It wasn't until I started training in CBT that I fully understood what anxiety is. I thought anxiety was a disease. Something that you had that needed to be fixed and gotten rid of. But at the core of it, anxiety is just an emotion. It's a feeling of worry or nerves. It's no different from happiness or sadness. It's an emotion.
Anxiety is just an emotion. It will crop up in your life every now and then. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Once I realised this, my whole idea of what a life without anxiety would look like changed. I always thought anxiety itself was the problem. But in reality, the way I responded to anxiety was the bigger issue here. I had to accept that at times I would feel nervous, and that's okay. I learned to recognise when I started to feel anxious and analyse what was going on for me. What am I feeling? What am I thinking? How do these thoughts relate to the feeling? How much of what I'm believing about myself right now is true? Am I jumping to conclusions?
Anxiety, just like any other emotion, is a part of life. You wouldn't reasonably expect to live your life without happiness, or sadness? Would you? In the same way, it's unrealistic to expect to live your entire life without feeling anxious every now and then. Anxiety comes about from uncertainty. It's that wave of fear that comes from the unknown. To eliminate anxiety completely you would have to eliminate any uncertainty from your life. But in doing this you would also eliminate excitement. If anxiety is one end of the uncertainty scale, then it's fair to say excitement would be at the opposite.
Noticing when you start to feel anxious and questioning yourself can help you see more rationally. You can start to notice the difference between your reaction and your response. I like to think of the wave of emotion as the reaction, and once I've done some digging on why I feel like this, I can decide how I choose to respond. I can either choose to jump to conclusions and go into a blind panic, or I can choose to evaluate the situation more accurately and remain calmer. And if I can do it, anyone can.
If you find yourself getting panicky and stressed quite often, I'd recommend you download my free Panic Plan. It's a PDF worksheet to help you through your thought process when you're feeling worried. It's totally free, and you can save it to your phone for access on the go.